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The Top Ten Alltime American Bands

Updated on May 28, 2017

Jim Morrison: Lead Singer And Poet Of The Doors

Icon Jim Morrison....shown in 1969 as he led the Doors to rock immortality.
Icon Jim Morrison....shown in 1969 as he led the Doors to rock immortality. | Source

Doors, Eagles And Others Battle For Supremacy

What is the name of the greatest American rock band ever? One respected poll rated the Doors of Jim Morrison as the greatest band ever formed in the United States. Another survey gave the honor to the Eagles whose co-leaders were Don Henley and Glenn Frie. Yet another survey gave the nod to Credence Clearwater Revival. Yet other people would query, "What about the Beach Boys?"

The ranking in such a poll is going to depend on who a pollster asks whether it be a baby boomer, a millenial, a generation X member or some other age group.

Doors Win The Top Tens Poll

The Doors were ranked No. 1 in a survey conducted by The Top Tens Publication. Legendary vocalist and poet Jim Morrison formed the group in sunny Los Angeles in 1965, two years after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The other members of the band all attained Rock and Roll Hall of Fame status as they performed such mega-hits as "Light My Fire", "Riders On The Storm" and "Break On Through To The Other Side." Robbie Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore were all super talented in their own right and produced a sound behind Morrison's once-in-a-generation voice which equated with fame. Sadly, Morrison died when he was still in his twenties under controversial circumstances and lies to this day in a Paris cemetery. His grave is a popular site for tourists to visit even today in 2017.

The Doors were able to combine an intense mix of blues, jazz and poetry to create a sound which has not since been duplicated, according to the London Telegraph which only ranked them No. 3. Ranker rated The Doors as the No. 2 American group of all time.

Eagles finished in runner up position

A composition of polls ranked the unforgettable Eagles at No. 2. Like the Doors, they were also formed in Los Angeles, although not until 1971. This glittering all-star cast of musicians included Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon. This fascinating group included many lineup changes with Meisner once quitting because he refused to perform a song (Take It To The Limit) which required him to hit notes high in the stratosphere. At one time the mercurial Joe Walsh formed an integral part of the group. He also reportedly dated Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac fame before they ultimately split. Sources said it was a volcanic relationship which was based on true love, but the two simply couldn't get along. Timothy Schmitt also did a tour of duty with the group. The Eagles originally played as an opening act for Linda Ronstadt. They credited her with aiding them in their career. The Eagles have sold 150 million records worldwide. Some of their biggest hits have included "Hotel California", "Desperado" and "Best Of My Love." Frey died in January 2016.

Eagles Shown During Tour

Legendary Eagles....shown during concert tour.
Legendary Eagles....shown during concert tour. | Source

Beach Boys Finish At No. 3

The Beach Boys were literally family as three brothers Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson anchored the group. Cousin Mike Love was the fourth family member and friend Al Jardine rounded out the quintet as the only non-relative in the group. Formed in Hawthorne, California in 1961, they are still active as they are slated to perform with an orchestra in Utah later this year. Several of their hits remain classics including "Help Me Rhonda", "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "Kokomo". The Beach Boys have sold in excessof 100 million records.

Van Halen Soars To Fourth Best

The Gibson.com Readers Poll of the Top 25 American Rock Bands actually listed Van Halen as the No. 1 group. When it was formed in Pasadena, California in 1972, the band consisted of guitarist Eddie Van Halen, vocalist David Lee Roth, drummer Alex Van Halen and bassist Michael Anthony, according to Wikipedia. This lineup remained the same from 1974 until 1985. They've been listed in three genres including hard rock, heavy metal and glam metal. It was in 1985 that Sammy Hagar replaced Roth and the band recorded four No. 1 hits during the next eleven years. Hagar left the band in 1996 and was replaced by Gary Cherone, formerly of Extreme. Cherone left the group after only one year in 1999, and the band went on hiatus until 2003. Roth returned as lead singer in 2006 for one of the top grossing tours of the year. Eddie's son Wolfgang Van Halen replaced Anthony who was fired. Van Halen's immense popularity is reflected by the fact they are one of only five bands that have had two different studio albums sell more than 10 million copies in the U.S. The group has sold more than 80 million records in addition to charting the most No. 1 hits in the history of Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart. A few of the group's most popular songs include "Why Can't This Be Love", "Best of Both Worlds", and "Love Walks In".

Allman Brothers Band Fifth Best; Gregg Allman Dies Today At 69

The Allman Brothers Band were grossly disrespected by Gibson's official list at only No. 10. However, the readers of Gibson's voted them No. 3 which is more realistic. This group was formed in Macon, Georgia in 1969 by brothers Duane Allman and Greg Allman, as well as Dicky Betts, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks and Jai Johnny "Jaimoe" Johnson, according to Wikipedia. Some of their hits include "Whipping Post", "Ramblin' Man" and "Midnight Rider". The band owes much of its popularity to its combination of blues, jazz, country music and southern rock. Tragically, group leader Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle accident shortly after their 1971 live album "At Fillmore East" was released. Bassist Berry Oakley was also killed in a motorcycle accident in 1972. The band retired in 2014 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. Greg Allman garnered massive publicity when he was in a relationship with Cher, the widow of Sonny Bono.

Allman died today, Saturday at his home in Savannah, Georgia, according to publicist Ken Weinstein. Greg, who is credited with spawning the Southern rock movement, cancelled some of his 2016 tour dates after announing he was "under his doctor's care at the Mayo Clinic. In March, 2017, he cancelled the remainder of the performances for his tour.


Credence Clearwater Revival Ranked Sixth With John Fogarty

John Fogarty's incredible talent demands Credence Clearwater Revival land in this Top 10 list. Embattled only by a bitter dispute with his record company, Fogarty eventually emerged triumphant. The readers poll conducted by Gibson's placed this group at No. 4 while the official Gibson's ranking dropped the band to only No. 14. A list of their most popular songs would have to include "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" from 1970, "Fortunate Son" released in 1969 as well as "Bad Moon Rising" also from 1969.

This popular group included lead vocalist and lead guitarist John Fogarty, his brother Tom Fogarty, bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford. Despite their San Francisco Bay Area beginnings, the group played in a Southern rock style. The band played at 1969's famed Woodstock Festival. The band has sold more than 26 million albums in the U.S. alone. The number would've been much higher were it not for their split in late 1972, according to Wikipedia. Stage time was lost to courtroom battles as John's continuing disagreements with their label Fantasy Records. CCR is still a staple of American radio play despite despite its comparatively short lifespan. Tom Fogarty left the band in 1971 and leader John had arguments with the remaining members over business matters and artistic control.

The song "Susie Q" was the band's second single and only Top 40 hit not written by John Fogarty. The song "Proud Mary" reached No. 2 on the national Billboard chart.

John Fogarty Performs In Italy

John Fogaerty performs in Italy in 2006.
John Fogaerty performs in Italy in 2006. | Source

ZZ Top Ranked Seventh

ZZ Top was voted in at No. 11 by a the Readers Poll conducted by Gibson, but the group deserves a higher ranking in this poll. This group was formed in 1969 in Houston, Texas and consisted of bassist and lead vocalist Dusty Hill, guitarist and lead vocalist Billy Gibbons along with drummer Frank Beard. The group is one of the few to maintain the same lineup for more than 45 years. The band's top album was the 1983 creation "Eliminator, which sold more than 10 million copies in the United States alone. Total record sales of 25 million in America include 11 gold, seven platinum and three multi-platinum records as of 2016, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. As of 2014, the charismatic band had sold more than 50 million albums worldwide.

The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. ZZ Top was managed by Bill Ham, a Waxahachie, Texas native who had befriended Gibbons a year earlier. Unable to obtain a contract with an American label, the group signed with London Records.

The group's popularity only increased into the Synthesizer period from 1983 through 1991. Their album "Eliminator featured several hits including "Sharp Dressed Man" which was a top-rated video on MTV during the era when that network still featured music.

ZZ Top continues today as it played to a sold out crowd in Memorial Auditorium in Wichita Falls, Texas recently.


The Byrds Fly To No. 8 And Competed With Beatles

The Byrds were ranked seventh by Gibson's, and they definitely should be in the Top 10. Formed in 1964 in Los Angeles, they actually competed with the Beatles, Beach Boys and Rolling Stones for commercial success during late 1965. Although, they were unable to maintain that level of success, they are today considered by rock critics as one of the most influential rock bands of their era. Roger McGuinn is the only member who remained embedded in the group throughout its duration, David Crosby was also a part of the band before joining Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Some of their best known hits include "Mr. Tambourine Man", "Turn, Turn, Turn", "Eight Miles High" and "Ballad of Easy Rider." The American band who blended sounds of the British Invasion groups with traditional U.S. sounds, was inducted in January of 1991 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Buddy Holly And The Crickets No.9 Before Plane Crash

Lubbock, Texas native Buddy Holly and his Crickets were already a record-smashing band when the plane their leader was on crashed in an Iowa field, prematurely ending an extraordinary career in 1959. Their first hit record was the classic "That'll Be The Day", released in 1957 which soared to Number One on the Billboard charts. In many ways, the Crickets were forerunners of the Beatles. They had the talent to write their own material with a guitar-bass-drums lineup. After Holly's shocking death, the band continued to tour and record with other band members into the 21st century, according to Wikipedia.

Other huge hits for Holly's group included "Peggy Sue" and "Not Fade Away." Born on September 7, 1936, the singer-songwriter was a major figure in 1950s rock and roll. He grew up in a musical family and his style was influenced by gospel music, country music and rhythm and blues. In 1955, after opening for Elvis Presley, he decided to pursue a career in music.

The first album "Chirping Crickets" climbed to number five on the UK Albums Chart. Holly made his second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in January, 1958. The end came way too soon as he chartered a plane from Clear Lake, Iowa to Moorhead, Minnesota for his next show. Also killed in the crash were Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. Holly was a major influence on later popular music artists including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Elton John. He was among the first inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Frankie Valli, The Four Seasons And Jersey Boys Make No. 10

The Broadway hit musical "Jersey Boys" revived interest in the Four Seasons and catapults them into the No. 10 spot. The longevity of the group led by Frankie Valli's unique voice began in 1962 with the release of their first album featuring the huge hit single "Sherry." Their first hit rose all the way to No. 1. Several million-selling hits followed including "Big Girls Don't Cry", "Walk Like A Man"(their third No. 1) and "Candy Girl."

From 1962 through 1964, the Beach Boys were the only band to match the Four Seasons in record sales in the United States. Before the advent of the Beatles, the Four Season were called by some the most successful vocal quartet in history.

In 1962 Valli's group performed their smash hit "Big Girls Don't Cry" on the show American Bandstand. The group's popularity didn't wane in the onslaught of the British Invasion as "Dawn Go Away" hit No. 1.

Other hits followed including "Lets Hang On" and "Working My Way Back To You."

Conclusion: Gregg Allman Death Dampens Top Ten Today

The death of the creator of Southern rock Greg Allman today dampens the joy of doing this Top Ten. He was married to Cher a short time following her divorce from Sonny Bono. Greg leaves behind a son Elijah Blue he had with Cher. The Nashville rock star, known for his long, blond hair, was raised in Florida by a single mother after his father was shot to death, according to Fox News today. He idolized his older brother Duane. In his 2012 memoir "My Cross To Bear", Greg described how Duane was a central figure in his life during the years after their father was murdered by a man in a bar. The brothers further strengthened their bond while enduring a spell in a military school before they pursued fame and fortune in the music world.

Reader are invited to comment as to what bands they believe should be included in the Top 10 group. Also, comments regarding the tragic death of Gregg Allman are welcome.

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      Steve Sullivan 8 weeks ago

      Van Halen and Allman Brothers tie for last, all others tie for first!!!!

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 7 weeks ago from Louisiana, USA

      Great and entertaining article. I enjoy most of the bands on this list. The Doors are definitely pioneers fro being different in a tough era of music. Great job.

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